By Lisbeth Calandrino
I was speaking with my next door neighbor recently about what she was serving for Thanksgiving. She told me she had enough points at one of her favorite grocery stores to get a free turkey. However, to get the turkey, she had to spend $250 the previous month. That got me thinking about something similar we did about 30 years ago when I was in retail; if you spent $2,000 in October or November, we would give the customer a coupon for a free turkey.
Here are 10 suggestions you can employ in your store:
1. Think digital. Everyone is online these days, especially during the holiday season. Why not have a silent auction on your site with part of the proceeds going to a food pantry? Talk with your neighboring businesses and get them involved; see what they can offer for auction.
2. Don’t let the holidays get away from you. We get so involved in our own lives, we forget our customers and employees may be feeling left out and not sure what to do this season. Get everyone involved in decorating and have a holiday party for your employees.
3. Spruce things up. Buy Christmas trees, wreaths, mistletoe and decorative greens for your parking lot. Is it possible you can get a local nursery to use your parking lot and set up a stand? We can all use some cheer, regardless of the religion you might follow. Last year, I held a holiday dinner, and we celebrated several religions. It was enjoyable learning about other faiths people practice.
4. Food is also a great gift. Consider serving cookies, pies, hot chocolate or cider served in plastic cups. If you’re uncomfortable with people drinking or eating in your store, package everything to go. The key is to have something for everyone, including the postman, UPS drivers and everyone who delivers or calls on your business.
5. Get creative. One year we gave out faux pearls or diamond earrings in a tiny jewelry box. The customers loved them! Who doesn’t need an extra pair of earrings or a little pearl bracelet even if it’s to pass on? You could become a hit if you gave out hand sanitizer or toilet paper.
6. Pay it forward. I suggest sending a donation to your local animal shelter or to first responders in your customer’s name; you determine the amount they must spend. Anything that has to do with supporting your community will be appreciated and separate you from your competitors.
7. Cross-sell. Let’s say you’re selling kitchen floors; talk with a local kitchen designer or a shop that sells kitchen cabinets or appliances and gives a discount that you can pass off to your clients. This can be a real winner for the holidays and just requires a little thought.
8. Create a social media calendar. Who do you want to thank and what days do you want to post? Each day can be a motivational quote to make your customers feel better.
9. Add shine. Make the front of your store the shiniest building on the block. With economic concerns, it’s easy to forget that you can lift spirits.
10. Entertain passers-by in front of your store. Here’s an idea: what about caroling at the entrance your store? How about getting your employees to sing a few tunes and do a broadcast? It doesn’t matter what you do, but do it before the holidays are over.
The coronavirus pandemic has shown us that little things matter more than ever. A little creativity can go a long way.
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